Sabbath and Sanctuary in the Sand

You know, sometimes you just need to go to the beach.

Alone.

And, do anything you want. Or do nothing. Eat, sleep, bathe, read, nap, fish, walk, sit–do whatever,whenever you feel like it.

No alarms telling you it’s time to get up or it’s time for a meeting or an appointment.

No news. No arguments.  No politics.

I love my children and my dog.  But, the kids had school and the dog gets car sick, so they were not part of this trip.  I brought some clothes, some books, some food and my computer and a notebook so I could write.  And, I headed south and east to the beach.  I headed to a place familiar and quiet.  I went to rest and relax and enjoy some much needed and long-overdue solitude.

When I write about Laid Back Church, the church I believe I’m destined to find and live in someday, I imagine it being at the beach.  And, today as I walked and sat on the beach for several hours, I realized that I wanted that kind of sanctuary and that kind of Sabbath more than anything else.  I wanted it to be part of my day–that quiet, contemplative, calm, meditative kind of place that welcomed everyone and offered comfort for my weary soul.

I found that place of rest and renewal, that sanctuary that had been waiting for me to come home.  The time I have spent these last three days walking along the shore reminds me of how much the ocean inspires me and so many souls who need the sounds, sights, smells, and sensations that can only be found on sandy ground that meets a mighty and mysterious expanse of water called the Atlantic Ocean.

In my search for shells I found myself being delighted to discover sand dollars and tiny, beautiful, delicate works of art that once held a living being.  These will now be treasures that will live with me.

I walked with a shore bird this afternoon and found that the bird did not mind my presence at all.  I posed no threat to its search for food, so it was okay for us to walk together.  The seagulls were doing what seagulls do, but even they seemed content with simply enjoying the unusual warmth of a January day. They seemed content to just sit and be.

I breathed in air that filled my lungs with something clean and fresh that is different from the sweet air of the mountains I call home.  The breeze from the ocean was constant, but not cold.  It gently blew over the sand and over all who made their way into this sacred space, touching us just enough to make us aware that the warmth we felt would last for only a short while before winter had to make its presence known once again. ” Enjoy the day you have and all that’s been given,” whispered the breeze. And, so I did.

In equal parts, I am both filled with a thousand words, yet rendered speechless when I stand in such a place, taking in all that is before me and around me.  How is it that such a place can do such a thing?  How is that by simply being, this part of creation can renew the  soul?  Does it know that it gives me a sense of hope and that it restores my faith? How is it that in this Laid Back place, I feel surrounded by the wonder of God and the peace of Christ and the embrace of the Holy Spirit?

Tomorrow I will return to the mountains, to children and dog, to routines and things that fill life with the familiar: the people and things that give us purpose and pleasure. Some of this place will go home with me.  Some of me will remain in this place.  I think that’s as it should be.

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